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chihei hatakeyama - Minima Moralia
Whilst we all suckle from the white-plastic aural teet of our iPods, wouldn't it be cool if life was given an actual-factual soundtrack? If it was 'Minima Moralia' from Chihei Hatakeyama would be a shoe-in for frosty mornings.... Guranteed! As one half of electronic duo Opitope, Tokyo-based Hatakeyama certainly knows his way around a laptop - yet rather than fashion a digitalis off-shoot, 'Minima Moralia' chooses to eschew the silicon palate and focus instead on a collation of highly textured and instantly identifiable sounds. At its most simple 'Minima Moralia' is the noise of guitar and vibraphone fed through a laptop and given a makeover by Hatakeyama. At its most emotional 'Minima Moralia' is a gorgeous, life-affirming album that will have you living each day as if it were a snow-draped feature film. Or is that just us...? Flecked in glitter and with a velvet sound that can't help but seduce the ears, Hatakeyama opens through 'Bonfire On The Field'; wherein a cloud of diffused soundscape encroaches upon twinkling percussion and ill-defined field recordings, with the resultant eight minutes both joyfully anonymous and bursting with character. With the kind of fevered expectation that rightly greets any new addition to the Kranky catalogue, it'd be all too easy for albums like 'Minima Moralia' to buckle under the sky-high standards and crushing anticipation; yet rather than disappoint, Hatakeyama has crafted a bijou and lambent excursion in sound that will reward anyone who favours Baskinski, Lichens or Belong. Taken on their own, pieces like 'Swaying Curtain In The Window', 'Beside a Well' and 'Starlight Reflecting On The Surface of The River' are like a log-fire on a dark, cold night (we're thinking thoroughly welcoming and endlessly enchanting), yet indulge yourself in the album as a whole and you'll be submerged deep within it's mealy charm.